In Winter Cold, Renewable is Reliable

February 19, 2021

Second in series of reports on renewable energy – a jewel of local reporting, following up on the Texas electric grid debacle, and its implications for the rest of us.

From WJRT, Flint, MI.

9 Responses to “In Winter Cold, Renewable is Reliable”

  1. Glenn Martin Says:

    I was puzzled by the claim that solar PV had failed in Texas. I know that cold panels work better and that ,being dark, the photons that aren’t converted to electricity heat them up. And being smooth, the snow slides right off.
    That’s why my car will shed snow here in Ottawa being parked on a sunny day and why you see a lot of icicles hanging from bumpers from the melt.
    Also there’s this space-age technology called “brooms”. They make foof rakes for solar panels.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      solar actually performed better than expected.
      It is a very small percentage of the grid, so not able to overcome massive failure of gas, coal, nuclear.


  2. Wind and solar are reliable, … when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining. The weather is NOT reliable and there is no economical way to store enough electricity for the grid!

    • greenman3610 Says:

      National Renewable Energy Lab:

      https://www.nrel.gov/news/features/2020/declining-renewable-costs-drive-focus-on-energy-storage.html

      Only in the past decade has the widespread adoption of renewable energy sources become an economic possibility, said Paul Denholm, a principal energy analyst at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). He joined NREL 15 years ago and, at the time, he and other analysts were busy plotting a path to 20% of the nation’s energy supply coming from renewable sources. Now, they’re aiming much higher.

      “The declining cost of wind and solar and now batteries makes it conceivable to consider 100% renewables,” he said.

      NREL’s Renewable Electricity Futures Study estimated that 120 gigawatts of storage would be needed across the continental United States by 2050, when the scenario imagined a future where 80% of electricity will come from renewable resources. The country currently has 22 gigawatts of storage from pumped hydropower, and another gigawatt in batteries.

      • John Oneill Says:

        You’re getting your units wrong. You need to talk ‘gigawatt hours’, not ‘gigawatts’. My battery drill runs fine – for a few seconds. The replacement I just bought claims 36 Watt hours, which I hope to test working on my roof sometime.
        The US has about 250 Gigawatt hours of storage capacity, so if there’s 22 GW of turbine capacity, you could expect them to run, on average, for half a day. The largest, the Bath County pumped Storage station in Virginia, has 500 hours of peak power storage – about three weeks. To cover the average demand of the whole country, though, assuming you put a lot more turbines on the dams ( as Mark Jacobson has proposed for conventional hydro ), you’d only get half an hour.
        Incidentally, most of the US pumped hydro plants were built in the seventies, when nuclear reactor construction was also at a peak. For fossil fueled power, the main cost is the fuel, so pumped storage doesn’t make sense – you just build another generator. For nuclear, the construction of the power station, and the interest on it, are much more important, so peak shaving storage works. Less so for wind and solar, where the storage is proposed to cover gaps in production, not changes in demand.


        • You actually need two numbers to specify battery capacity. You need a number for how much power it can deliver and another for how much energy it can store. The energy number can be a time number for how long it can deliver max power. I’m finding that when I see some new grid battery tauted with a power number in a headline, if there is an energy number included, it’s usually for four hours.


  3. I’ve been reading up on energy for years and years and I’m just not impressed with energy storage schemes for grid storage. There are just too many details for any expert to completely address and the energy storage mavens appear to be particularly motivated not to find them. The most important concepts of the related chemistry and physics are well understood. There’s no Moore’s Law for grid energy storage — just incremental improvements and asymptotic limits. There has been only one quantum leap in energy storage:

    https://xkcd.com/1162/


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